(Chant and music) My name is Ho’onani Kamai . I was born in
Hawaii eleven years ago, but my ancestors have
been here for centuries. They came on big voyaging canoes over thousands of miles of
ocean. Despite their isolation, they built up an
amazing civilization with its own language and culture
and philosophy. Hawaii’s changed a lot since then, and many of the old ways have been
forgotten, but there are still a few places that are trying to keep the ancient traditions
alive. This is one of them, my school. I know it doesn’t
look like much, but for me, it’s a very special place. That’s me, and that’s our teacher, Kumu Hina. Middle line step up. Middle line, step up. See, you get both cause she’s both. (Drum and music) Before the coming of foreigners to our islands, we Hawaiians lived in aloha, in harmony with
the land and with one another. Every person had
their role in society, whether male, female, or
mahu, those who embrace both the feminine and masculine traits that are embodied within each and every one of us. Mahu were valued and
respected as caretakers, healers, and teachers of
ancient traditions. We passed on sacred knowledge from one generation to the next through hula,
chant, and other forms of wisdom. When American missionaries arrived in the
1800s, they were shocked and infuriated by these
practices and did everything they could to abolish them. Many chiefs and commoners adopted
this religious mindset seeing even hula and chant as immoral. Lawmakers imposed religious
strictures across our lands, and all kinds of traditions came to be viewed as ignorant
or bad. (Chanting and music) But, we Hawaiians are a steadfast and resilient
people. And so, despite 200 years of change and repression, we are still here. (Chanting and music) (Children chanting) Stop! If you expect me to be nice to you people,
kāne-wahine, wahine-kāne, your words need to
improve. I’ll do it once for you. (Kumu chants) I have coined the terms kāne-wahine and wahine-kāne
to address my students whom exude both kāne and wahine. So, when the kāne stand
up, and when the wahine stand up, they also know
that there’s a place in the middle for the kāne-wahine and wahine-kāne. And anything less than that, and you’re demoted
from your rank and stature as wahine-kāne, kāne-wahine and you just go back and, oh,
back to the regular old riff-raff. Sit down. This is Ho’onani, one of the chiefs. Us four
are warriors in the play, we are the warriors. Yeah. Tomboy, tomboy, tomboy. Ho’onani is a mixture of a girl and a boy.
She’s a good hula dancer, she plays ukulele, she sings. Everybody accepts it. It’s not a big thing. (Children singing) See, when you first look at me, o yeah, are
you a boy? I’m like, “Um, no”. And then they give
me a look, but it’s all a natural thing. Kumu’s in the middle too. Everybody know that, and
it’s not a secret to everybody. What middle means
is, a rare person. A rare. Peace out. Bye. This is from 1997, I started to make this.
Lot of the pictures are faded because it got exposed to
the light. That’s the old me, before
the transition. (Chanting) When I was in high school, I had a very rough
time. I was teased and tormented for being too girlish. But I found refuge in being Hawaiian, being Kanaka Maoli. My purpose in this lifetime
is to pass on the true meaning of aloha – love, honor and respect. It’s a responsibility that
I take very seriously. (Chanting ) (Applause) (Hoʻonani plays ukelele and sings) Ho’onani asked me to be involved with the
high school boys. I knew that she would want to be in
any of the numbers that I taught to the high school boys, because she always asks me to
be in every boy number. Assume this position. Good job. I was going to tell her no, but once she gets
it in her that she’s gonna do something, she will do it. Got to go, let’s go. Ready? Go. She heard us. How did you know? I just know, okay? We loud, yeah? All right. Ready, push. Hanahou, hanahou,
hanahou (Again, again, again) . You have been the kāne of the class that
have struggled from the beginning of the year, but this is
the time for a new you. This is the time for a different you, that your family has never
ever seen. This is a time for strength. This is the time
of kū. We are out of the time of lono, this is the time
of kū. You have a biological wahine, standing over
here in front of you, because she has more kū than
everybody else around here, even though she lacks the main essential parts of kū. But
in her mind and in her heart, she has kū. So, in your mind and in your naʻau – In your
noʻonoʻo and in your na’au. Olelo mai (say with
me): Noʻonoʻo. Noʻonoʻo. Naʻau. Naʻau. In your noʻonoʻo – in your thoughts – and
in your naʻau – in your gut, in your heart, the Hawaiian
heart, down here – you got to have kū. Alright, here we go, love you all. Aihaʻa! Feel the tension. (Chanting) I really like what Kumu Hina’s doing with the
kids, so any time she asked, I always made sure
that they were present and accounted for. Can you stop doing that before something flies
off? You always do that. Thank you. I’m going to
put this away so you don’t hurt yourself. Sing
something, please. Oh, God. Look can you just start from the beginning? You know, the pronunciation and stuff. (Sings)
Family … (Ukulele playing) (Sings: “Family, thatʻs the important
thing to me…” Ho’onani’s the youngest out of 5 children:
3 boys and 2 girls. I want my children, my girls to
learn the hula and learn Hawaiian culture because I never did. That’s what they gain
from Halau Lokahi, is the confidence to just stand up
in front of other people and do your best. (Sings: “So donʻt you blame your mom and
dad, sometimes you gotta blame the man). (Family laughs) (Phone rings) Wow! Oh, man. That just messed me up. Okay.
It’s okay. You’re doing good. (Answers phone) Hello. If I put you in a position of leadership, your eye has to see what I see. Your ears
have to hear what I hear. You got to be able to talk to
your people. So ready, go. (Chanting) Anybody else? Aihaʻa! (Hoʻonani chants loudly, boys follow) Jeremy, switch with Sage. The way I learned hula was, I watched first, and
then I try. No, I think you guys are good this time, though. Most people don’t do that, because they’re
afraid or ashamed of what they do and what they
produce. The thing is to get better, not to be judged on the way that somebody else does
it. (Chanting. Boys laugh.) So, the reason you have me this morning is because I had a phone call from Kumu Hina last night. Kumu Hina was more upset than she has
been in a while. I’m going to ask the young kids. Over here at pualu (daily assembly),
do you folks notice sometimes that not everybody participates in pualu?
Yes. Okay. So, with a honest answer, who is that
group? High school.
Turn around and say it. High school.
Okay. Turn back around. This is a cultural icon in Hawaii. Do you
guys all understand? Yes.
Hina is trying to hold on to what is left of Hawaiian culture. To say the word “kumu”
means what?
Teacher. But, what does it mean? If you say “aloha”
to anybody, where is it coming from? Your mouth? Your heart. Supposed to be … or don’t say the word.
When you sing Hawaii Pono’i, what flag do you have
on your chest? Hawaii.
Hae Hawai’i (flag of Hawaiʻi). We didn’t get to sing that stuff in our schools. We
had to pledge allegiance to the flag that took over Hawaii.
Do you get it? There’s a reason you were born in
Hawaii or came home to Hawaii. There’s some reason. It’s a divine energy that runs up
through the lava. Do you guys get it? You are the
warriors of today. (Everyone sings Hawai’i Pono’i) The next day, the islands shook violently. Tutu
Pele erupted. Okay, can we not? This is not a
funeral, can we please walk normally back? Off the stage. This is taking too long. You
guys got to hurry up. Tutu Pele erupted from the depths. Time check. It’s just about 12:30. For me to have students stand in the middle
can be one of the biggest challenges. There’s potential backfire from parents and families
who may look at this and say that I should encourage a girl to go stand with the girls
and a boy to stand with the boys. But that’s not my
role. My role is to take their young person and to help mold them into the best that they
can be. Sometimes I feel like I might be setting you
up for some disappointment. I know that you like to
go stand with all the boys and I know that’s where you like to go. Kumu’s okay with that. But when you work with other people, they may
expect you to stand in the girl’s line, okay? So, for
as long as you stay a young person, you just roll with it, you know? When you get to be
my age, you’re not going to have to move for anybody
else. Okay? To think about Kumu Hina’s perspective, back
then, people intimidated her of being that way. Nobody respected the middle people. But I talk the truth all the time. I don’t like
to lie, so yeah. We both are in the middle and nobody teases
us for it. Go eat lunch with your friends. Ok. Kumu Hina, come on. We have to go. (Singing) I’m extremely proud of all of you, because
I see you here on the night of delivery. You all get
your A. Mahalo (thank you). Thought you was one boy but… He is. He is. All right, okay, inducted in. You guys
better bring it. Bring the house down. (Singing and applause) The next day, the island shook violently.
Tutu Pele erupted from the depths. (Performance of Ai Ke Mumu Keke) (Loud chanting) (Loud chanting) (Chanting) (Group chanting) (Audience applauds loudly) Ho’o you did awesome. When Ho’onani did that number, I was so proud. I’m so proud of you. You made me cry. Love is the biggest thing, you know, that
we should always teach our children. To love anybody
no matter what race, no matter what creed, no matter what sex, no matter what gender. If you love a person for who they are, and let them
be who they are, then that’s whole circle right? I
mean love is a surrounding circle of everything that goes around comes around. Watch out now, that head gonna be too big
for the body. I want every student to know that if you are
my student, you have a place to be – Ho’onani: In
the middle. In the middle. In the middle. I just give Ho’o props. She’s got more guts
than all of us. She’s a real good teacher. She’s a like a kumu, to all us boys. She’s like the shadow, but now she’s sticking
up now. She does have more laho (balls) than all of
us here, and that’s the bottom line. I’d like to thank you all for giving me this
opportunity. I’d like to thank Kumu Hina and I hope
you guys like me for your leader. Mahalo. Well, that’s the end of the story, at least
for now. It’s time to say, aloha, which can either mean
hello, or goodbye, or the most important meaning of all, which is to have love, honor and respect
for everyone. Aloha.

PBS HAWAII PRESENTS: A Place in the Middle
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80 thoughts on “PBS HAWAII PRESENTS: A Place in the Middle

  • November 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm
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    (16:23) Former? National Anthem of Hawai'i.
    Mahalo no kou hana nui e Kumu Hina a me na kumu a pau!

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  • December 31, 2015 at 4:24 am
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    Damn, this is so powerful. Amazing <3
    Keep the native cultures alive.

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  • January 15, 2016 at 2:52 am
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    this changes me… so powerful.

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  • March 28, 2016 at 11:07 pm
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    Beautiful and powerful teacher– and her students are learning to carry deep inside them a supernatural understanding.

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  • March 30, 2016 at 8:16 am
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    I am crying. This is so beautiful <3

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  • June 11, 2016 at 7:12 pm
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    Yakoke! (thank you!) for sharing! Beautifully powerful story.

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  • June 12, 2016 at 2:48 am
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    The Hawaiians got life figured out. Love this.

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  • August 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm
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    Missionary perpetrated Epistemicide…… We need to bring back all of our indigenous traditions for inclusion, wisdom and kindness.

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  • August 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm
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    So many emotions… I cried so freely and felt such deep joy, seeing this. Mahalo.

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  • September 4, 2016 at 3:38 am
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    my heart </3 beautiful teacher doing so well

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  • September 15, 2016 at 7:45 am
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    at 20:10 what Hula is that?

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  • October 2, 2016 at 5:37 pm
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    beautiful

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  • November 11, 2016 at 3:34 am
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    So powerful!

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  • December 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm
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    Even the Pacific island of Samoa they call them faafafines which were boys made to be girls and help the mother out with the chores if there were only boys in the family

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  • December 22, 2016 at 7:05 am
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    Beautiful. Now I want to move there.

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  • January 18, 2017 at 2:10 am
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    Some times the best guy for the job… is a girl!! 😀 <3

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  • January 30, 2017 at 8:55 pm
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    "Lived in harmony with each other", that is, when they weren't warring with each other.

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  • February 20, 2017 at 6:32 pm
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    WOW

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  • March 27, 2017 at 8:17 am
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    God Bless you for all you do. Not just for our culture but for the children and the future of Hawaiiana.

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  • March 28, 2017 at 10:34 am
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    15;21 Good Job Kumu for telling the truth about our culture is important. if we don't get serious about our culture 3 generations later our culture would be dieing and would lose our identity.

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  • May 3, 2017 at 12:53 am
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    Ancient traditions are one thing, but today the word "mahu" is a homophobic word, just like F*** or Q** are used on the mainland.

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  • May 6, 2017 at 7:18 pm
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    She was meant for that part. I absolutely loved this documentary. ❤❤❤😘

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  • May 28, 2017 at 3:15 am
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    So beautiful!

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  • June 17, 2017 at 8:27 pm
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    sitting here drinking kava and watching this — beautiful documentary!

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  • June 27, 2017 at 9:14 pm
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    KUMU HINA , I LOVE WHAT YOUR DOING FOR OUR FUTURE LEADERS , OUR KEIKI'S ALL NEED A KUMU LIKE YOU IN EVERY SCHOOL MAHALO , MAHALO FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE DOING FOR KEIKI'S AND OUR FUTURE OF HAWAII NEI

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  • August 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm
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    is this place Kakaako? Oahu? really can't tell where this place is?

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  • November 13, 2017 at 4:27 am
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    Love her, she is trying to preserve their culture one student at a time.

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  • November 28, 2017 at 8:27 am
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    I'm samoan and this is stupid.

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  • November 28, 2017 at 8:28 am
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    Why politicise culture and bend and twist it to fit your narrative? This is stupid, no evidence for this kaka

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  • December 4, 2017 at 4:26 am
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    I saw the full documentary of this last night and found this today. My little sister the "magical Wahine"made me cry at 20:57, because she had more Kane than everyone on that stage much like myself in the military. This is STILL POWERFUL 2 years and 1 month later. She showed anybody coming for her that she's ready. Her mom is really understanding of her kids also. To "MA" much Love & Respect from a "magical Wahine" in Atlanta, Ga. To you both, Keep your culture and history ALIVE as mine has been erased and is not in the hearts of the ones I look to and it's not because I didn't study, read, or pay attention. In conjunction with reading books I still need stories and understanding. Only the dirty parts of my history remain for those that are ready to believe the worst of my people. That's where they teach us our culture starts… I truly wish that a teacher like you appears for the ones of us that need your type of Love. Be well Ladies.

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  • December 16, 2017 at 9:19 am
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    Don’t know how I got here but wow what an amazing documentary

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  • December 19, 2017 at 2:36 am
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    beautiful

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  • January 5, 2018 at 6:35 pm
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    Thank you for this! For teaching me a part of the Hawaiian culture I was never taught, nor my father taught, nor my brother taught. If it has been, the family might not have lived through what it lived.

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  • January 6, 2018 at 12:42 am
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    Another group of people the white man has stolen EVERYTHING from..

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  • January 7, 2018 at 4:59 pm
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    5:40 “regular old rift-raft”… I am Hawaiian. I couldn’t watch this!

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  • January 13, 2018 at 3:37 am
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    Ho, gimme goosebumps bra!!

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  • January 25, 2018 at 9:14 pm
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    I am happy and proud to be hawaiian/filipino😀😀

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  • January 29, 2018 at 12:49 am
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    Oh my goodness I love love love you for being so strong. Mahu may be hard but even Christians and Catholics are starting to wake up to our traditions as moral knowing God wouldn't create a human being without a chance to live beside him in heaven thank God for you!!!

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  • February 7, 2018 at 8:43 pm
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    This video made me cry .god bless you for bringing back the place for wahine Kane and Kane wahine ..that girl will be a great great person for all kanaka

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  • February 7, 2018 at 8:46 pm
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    I feel so robbed of my culture all my life growing up with English language and religion the religion and language of a people who will Never truly except us as equals.

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  • June 4, 2018 at 10:15 am
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    Ho'onani made me cry during her performance. Filipino by blood but born and raised in Oahu and lived here all my life. Hawaiian at heart! Haha mahalo Kumu Hina and Ho'onani <3

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  • June 9, 2018 at 11:41 am
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    Wonderful video

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  • June 16, 2018 at 7:29 am
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    Love this documentary and most of all, I admire how Hawaian handle this «problem» of genders really easily by accepting a third gender, which is a very hard thing for other countries, for some reasons.

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  • June 22, 2018 at 9:17 am
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    ❤️🌴🌺😍🤟🏼🌸🌴💜

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  • June 25, 2018 at 2:35 pm
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    Brought tears to my eyes…

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  • June 27, 2018 at 8:54 am
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    Ngā tauwhirotanga kia koutou ngā uri whakaheke xx

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  • September 1, 2018 at 8:01 am
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    The grief of colonization

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  • September 17, 2018 at 7:19 pm
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    I’m not Hawaiian, but born and raised in Hawaii. This brought tears to my eyes. So moving. I am very respectful of Hawaiian Rights, and proud to live here. Thank you for this, every school in Hawaii should have this program, because we are all in this together to preserve the culture and way of life. Remarkable.

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  • September 26, 2018 at 6:16 am
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    This is called The Decepticons on my planet. Auto Cox Roll Out!! o<[]>o

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  • November 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm
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    / Maika`i Loa, @KumuHina!!! PBS HAWAII PRESENTS: A Place in the Middle @NativeOpinion @NativeTrailblaz @Native_Hashtags #NativeTwitter 💯 #808Island & #Str8N8v4LYF Style 💗🤟🏽🙋🏽‍♀️🤙🏽

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  • November 16, 2018 at 4:17 am
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    What was that song played in the beginning!?! I remember this song was always played at our family gatherings and school luaus!

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  • November 19, 2018 at 6:33 pm
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    2 years ago i watched this and had to come back again just to see this beautiful video.

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  • December 1, 2018 at 9:02 am
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    Still revisit this from time to time… iwas in the book pcsse at rehab and was transformational at the time… Honani(sp?) at eleven your here my Kumu teaching me so much about my place…ontario canada nyawen

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  • January 28, 2019 at 2:58 am
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    Hawaii people are so beautiful in to out mentally and spiritually god bless them all, maintaining and supporting their roots, many cultures that are fading away they should take example from this.

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  • February 16, 2019 at 4:04 am
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    Another beautiful culture destroyed in part by the white man… I wish the Trump administration ununderstood the importance of preserving indigenous culture and why we refuse to "assimilate" and Americanize ourselves.

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  • March 5, 2019 at 6:25 am
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    Look Moana

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  • March 6, 2019 at 8:22 pm
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    I am wondering in anyone on the interweb can translate the Hakka the starts 20:02… Hulu of the overcomer.., i have been practicing the steps since last april and world love to know what the words are in english. It has been a transformational discipline thank you to the Students and Kumu Wong, for sharing this dance.
    Kachi Meegwetch… Tkoronto Canada,

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  • March 8, 2019 at 5:19 pm
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    Damn I wish my people actually had our own culture. Well we do have a culture kind of. If you count hip hop culture which is shity

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  • March 19, 2019 at 6:41 am
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    Mahalo nui for sharing the true meaning of ALOHA. You all are absolutely a breath of fresh air in our lands. Blessings and Aloha Nui

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  • March 24, 2019 at 3:55 am
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    My grandmother's name is Mahu. But in her country it means "little moon."

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  • April 12, 2019 at 5:05 am
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    We are all filled with the spirits, and some of us are both kane-wahine, male and female spirit, or as the hawaiins put it plainly and simply, somewhere "in the middle". We all have testosterone and estrogen in our bodies. One hormone presents itself more then the other, or, we are somewhere in the middle. To Hawaiins and native americans, for example, you were a rare spirit or "two spirits". You were NOT gay or a fag. Mahu means in the middle in traditional hawaiin. But, in modern urban hawaiin slang, Mahu means "fag" or homosexual (derogatory sense).

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  • April 15, 2019 at 9:22 pm
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    A transvestite. Gender Dysphoria. Sodomy. Mutilation. Lying. All to be praised.

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  • July 5, 2019 at 1:46 am
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    A very beautiful documentary and culture but do y'all believe in God?

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  • July 29, 2019 at 12:24 pm
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    aloha! 💖 💖 💖

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  • July 30, 2019 at 1:11 am
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    i love this

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  • August 3, 2019 at 1:19 am
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    Sooo love this!❤❤❤

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  • August 9, 2019 at 5:27 am
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    🌋

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  • August 17, 2019 at 12:22 am
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    Why are you teaching our keiki this bullshit? Fact is if you have a penis you are a man and you need a women to continue life. That is why we are here. If this was normal we would all die off. I understand that people have mental disorders but this is complete shit that PBS is spreading this to young children.

    BTW if you research old pictures in our kigdom there are zero pictures of transvestites or transgenders. This is all new garbage to brainwash our people.

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  • August 17, 2019 at 12:40 am
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    Not all indigenous cultures accept it because were born Male or female no between.

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  • August 18, 2019 at 12:35 am
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    I love you my Ohana… There is Aina here in Missouri. Me and my Hawaiian man can’t wait to come home 🌺🏝🌋🌈💝🐚🍹 There’s no place like home!

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  • August 21, 2019 at 5:50 pm
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    I'd love to see updates on how they're doing! I first watched this some time ago, and I keep coming back to it.

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  • August 23, 2019 at 3:06 am
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    I wish I was raised in this culture.
    I'm very mixed. My dad is Chinese Filipino, and my mom is Filipina Hawaiian.
    I feel like I'm Mahu myself. I've always considered myself more like wahine, less like kane, but somehow both. I'm 22 now and I still feel this way after all these years.
    If my Hawaiian family never left the islands and I was able to grow up there…wow, the confidence and childhood I could have had! A place to fit in! A place that feels right. That would have been amazing.

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  • August 27, 2019 at 2:37 am
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    De transition and come back a man

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  • August 28, 2019 at 4:10 am
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    It is fascinating that Hawaiian is not a race but a culture.
    Race and prejudice can and must be transcended by Love.

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  • September 3, 2019 at 12:49 am
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    I agree with you people are many things, but people always want to caterorize you as a race whatever.

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  • September 3, 2019 at 1:57 am
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    Love and support from Brazil <3

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  • September 3, 2019 at 3:23 am
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    I look crazy #AF in hawaii

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  • September 3, 2019 at 11:42 am
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    Hina is a beautiful, lovely person, like all Kanaka Maoli with the heart in the right place.

    Reply

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